PhillyDeals: Home, car demand rise, signal boost in economy

Tech company employees from Google and Microsoft were found to favor President Obama in the election. PAUL SAKUMA /AP
Tech company employees from Google and Microsoft were found to favor President Obama in the election. PAUL SAKUMA /AP
Posted: November 07, 2012

The U.S. economy is primed for "faster growth," which means Tuesday's presidential election is "a good one to win," IHS Global Insight wrote in an election day report.

The next president will preside over hiring and growth during his term, predicts IHS, which has offices in Lexington, Mass., and Philadelphia. IHS is a successor to Wharton Econometrics.

"Credit conditions are gradually easing, and household demand for the traditional drivers of recovery - vehicles and houses - is gaining momentum," IHS's Nigel Gault adds.

There is still plenty of "uncertainty" from Europe and China, and with foreign demand generally. If that uncertainty "clears only gradually," and if a divided U.S. government takes its time sorting out a new budget, the economy in this country will still be slow next year, Gault projects.

But after that and through 2017, Gault wrote, "We anticipate 9.75 million jobs being added (roughly 200,000 per month), and the unemployment rate dropping to 6.0."

Office pools

Employees of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and other big banks were top donors to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, reversing their 2008 allegiance to Barack Obama, the Center for Responsive Politics reports.

As a group, lawyers gave twice as much to Obama as to Romney, while medical professionals were split. Tech company employees - Microsoft, Google - favored Obama. Small contributors favored Obama, but the big money's betting on Romney.

Research support

Richard W. Vague, the former credit-card mogul ( First USA Bank; Barclaycard USA) who sold his University City company, EnergyPlus L.L.C., to NRG Corp. for $190 million in 2011, has endowed a professorship in immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania. Carl H. June will be named to the post at a ceremony at Penn's Smilow Center for Translational Research on Dec. 5.

Vague says he is supporting June's promising immunotherapy, which alters the DNA of T-cells, which then attack disease. He says the treatment, which patients find difficult and debilitating, works in a period of weeks on healthy patients, and left three adult leukemia sufferers and a Harrisburg-area girl "cancer-free" after a year.

June's group hopes to match that success with a larger trial of pancreatic cancer patients, who are typically more resistant to treatment than leukemia patients. Novartis beat out two rival drugmakers for the right to invest $20 million in Penn and June's ultra-personalized therapy in August.

Vague told me he agreed to back June after reviewing June's early results with biotech investor Brian Dovey, head of Philadelphia- and San Diego-based Domain Associates. Vague also sought input from a member of the biotech group at Morgan Stanley, and leaders of Philadelphia's Wistar Institute. All warned Vague that biotech cancer treatments are often promising in their early stages but can't be reproduced to scale, and that investment returns can take decades. So Vague made a contribution, hoping for social returns.

Easy switch

First Colonial National Bank, a community bank based in Collingswood, says it has converted to a New Jersey state-chartered bank, scrapping its national bank charter. The switch "will allow greater ability to execute our strategy [and] remain competitive," chief executive Gerard Banmiller said in a statement.

The outspoken Banmiller had previously questioned Congress' decision, under the Dodd-Frank bank reform law signed by Obama in 2010, to force local banks such as First Colonial to comply with what Banmiller says are cumbersome reporting and compliance rules. Banmiller contends those rules are in response to losses and financial violations committed, not by community banks, but by big Wall Street institutions.

In the statement, First Colonial noted deposits will remain protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and added that "the conversion to a state charter will not have any significant financial or regulatory impact or affect First Colonial's current activities or customers."


Contact Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194, JoeD@phillynews.com, or @PhillyJoeD on Twitter.

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